Información geoespacial para lograr sistemas alimentarios sostenibles

Evaluation of irrigation, infrastructure crop mapping and estimation of agricultural water use in Libya

The agricultural sector in Libya faces various challenges, with difficult environmental conditions mostly dominated by limited access to water resources (only four percent of Libya lies outside the desert and arid agro-ecological zone and approximately seven percent of the country receives a total precipitation exceeding 100 mm annually), conflict, political instability and insecurity impacting individuals and families as well as the entire sector’s economy and institutions. Previous assessments have shown that the crisis has exacerbated pre-existing challenges associated with agricultural production in Libya, including water scarcity, animal and plant diseases, desertification and labour shortages. 

To respond to the chronic lack of freshwater, the Libyan Government developed the Great Man-Made River (GMMR) project, implemented in three main phases over the course of more than two decades, aiming at extracting fossil water from the South of the country (mainly the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System). An underground network of pipes covering 1 600 km, is distributing freshwater over the coastal areas where most of the population live. Other projects aim at finalizing phase three and develop phase four and five of the GMMR project, to increase the areas served with water. In addition, support was given to Agricultural Ministry to expand irrigation projects for cereal production in south region (Fezzan). However, nowadays, these projects are not fully operative and a proportion of the water infrastructures is not maintained.  

Along with recent progress in bringing political stability, there is a strong interest from the Government to accelerate agricultural development and improve agricultural production. In parallel, there is also an interest to maximize water and crop productivity, considering that water and arable land are amount the most limiting constraint factor to agriculture along with equipment and labor. Accordingly, there is a need to evaluate the status of water management infrastructure that contributes to the agricultural sector. 

Considering  that  most  of information on  irrigation  is  no  longer  available  or  outdated, sparse or fragmented, the project “Evaluation of irrigation, infrastructure crop mapping and  estimation  of  agricultural  water  use-ICAWU” (OSRO/LIB/100/AFB) aims at  an improved knowledge on the irrigation  infrastructure  damages,  the impact on water efficiency and crop & water productivity supported  by  RS  technologies,  with  the  overall  objective  to  improve  food security in the country by more performant and efficient use of agricultural water. The Geospatial Unit at the Land and Water division (NSL) provides support in improving knowledge on irrigation management infrastructure and water and crop productivity by using geospatial technologies and remote sensing to bridge the information gap.